“Forestry is all about managing balance.” – Dave Lindsay

Dave Lindsay has worked in the forest sector as a biologist for 42-years. Over the span of his illustrious career, Dave has conducted world-leading research, written policy and collaborated on forestry and environmental regulations that helped shape the industry. His passion, knowledge and experience contributed to BC emerging as a leader in sustainable forest management.

Dave grew up in BC and spent his days outside, hiking, fishing and exploring the natural world around him. From the start, he had a passion for animals and nature. As a teenager, Dave spent summers working at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo. When he graduated high school it was a natural decision for him to continue pursuing his passion for nature and the environment by attending UVIC and UBC to study biology.  Upon graduation in 1975, Dave took a research position with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. “The world in the early 70’s was a different place,” says Dave Lindsay. “There really were no constraints on industry. And it made sense to work for the government to better understand the research that supported the regulatory and legislative policies authorized at the time.”

During this period, industry, including forestry, had minor environmental regulations to follow. In fact, one could argue that forestry in the early ‘70’s had changed little since the hay-days of the lumber-barons. By the late ‘70’s, things began to change – active voices of concerned citizens were multiplying. Major forest companies on the coast began employing biologists, hydrologists and terrain specialists on staff, and to help educate and promote the new forest sciences and their impact on sustainable forest management including habitat considerations.

“And just like that I was hired to work for Macmillan Bloedel on their new environmental team. This was the start of implementing science-based environmental considerations into forest practices.  It was exciting, all these new government regulations had come online and our team was responsible for working alongside operations to make sure those regulations were followed.”

As the ’80’s came roaring in, Dave joined the BC Forest Products, Resource Planning Group (the predecessor of current TimberWest Environment and Resource Integrations (ERI) group) and began to design and implement leading edge applied research programs that were designed to facilitate forest policy changes. “At this time government policy began to be heavily influenced by the environmental movement; and yes, I agreed that forestry could and should be better at managing the forests, but consultation was needed that included industry input, and the implementation of forest science research.”

With that Dave began to champion the sector. He started meeting regularly with government officials and departments to discuss forestry regulations. “I am really proud of the work I was a part of, alongside a number of very well respected biologists in the forestry sector. We worked with the government to provide real science and research. For example, the Fish-Forest Guidelines was one of the first jointly-developed riparian policies that we helped formulate. This eventually led to the development of the Forest Practices Code with guidelines for riparian practices and biodiversity management that I am still very proud of.”

These new regulations became standard practice in BC and the envy of other provinces. Major changes in riparian buffer widths that considered wildlife and ecological factors, as well as fish and water quality were implemented based on science-based research. Perhaps more importantly, the impacts on fish habitats from landslides and road construction were virtually eliminated after these strong regulations were implemented.

“Dave masterminded research on fish streams, and on species at risk like the marbled murrelet, Vancouver Island marmot, purple martin and Northern goshawk,” said Domenico Iannidinardo, VP Sustainability and Chief Forester at TimberWest. “His work has been cited, referenced and adopted by forest professionals throughout the province.  His peer-reviewed research paper on marbled murrelet population trends has reduced some of the anxiety regarding this threatened seabird.”

For the last 14 years, Dave and his colleagues at TimberWest have been leading the way on a Northern Goshawk study. The study is informing the provincial and Federal governments on Species at Risk policy, and could very well lead to some significant changes in the regulation currently enacted.

“The Northern Goshawk is an important forest-dependent coastal species,” says Dave. “And it was my goal to make sure TimberWest had the most proactive, science-based approach to managing them.” Dave has worked tirelessly to educate and train people on how to identify goshawk habitat, including its behaviour, nesting features, and life history stages.

“The work Dave started on the Northern Goshawks has inspired a whole generation of biologists and foresters. His work has helped materially improve outcomes for this species at risk. We are really proud of Dave’s work and what he has done to advance the science,” says Jeff Zweig, President and CEO of TimberWest.

“What I love most about my job is working with operations staff and the team of biological and terrain specialists to consider the landscape-level biodiversity, the wildlife habitat parameters, the fibre basket and the new forest that will grow back. It’s neat being able to put all these puzzle pieces together with a view on the present moment, while thinking of the future, and the forest that will grow in its place.”

Dave’s impact on the sector has been recognized and awarded. Most recently he received the Private Forest Landowners Association Private Forestry Stewardship Award and Life Time Member Award. He is also actively involved with many organizations such as, the College of Applied Biology Audit Committee, Federal Recovery Teams for marbled murrelets and Vancouver Island marmots, the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, the Cowichan Water Board Technical Advisory Committee, and the San Juan Stewardship Round Table.

Dave also helped develop the Private Forest Landowners Association Best Management Practices program which helps government officials, forest owners, forestry professionals and loggers to better understand practices and approaches to habitat management on private managed forest land.

“Dave was a regular participant and contributor to forest field tours and training workshops, and he knows how to make people understand the intricate balance of managing a working forest,” says Bill Waugh Chair of the Private Forest Landowners Association.

“I know that the way forestry is done today is something I can be proud of. Over my career I have worked with some of the most genuine, considerate, and thoughtful foresters one could ever hope to meet. The most environmentally-friendly people I know also work in the woods. They are often recreating in the forests during their free time and love to see elk, bears and other wildlife.  They are diligent and proud of putting into practices regulations they helped craft to make the industry better. My colleagues and peers are constantly striving to do a better job out in the bush than they did the day before.

“I am certain the sector is only getting better at how it manages the forest landscape. And I am proud that I get to leave a legacy for the next generation to improve upon. In fact, one of my daughters has followed me into the forest industry, and maybe my grandkids will too.  I want them to know that the changes I put in place were big, bold and different – and considered their generation, and the one after that. It’s good to be a part of a science based renewable resource sector that has done more to be better – and continues to strive to be even better. And I am really proud that I was there to be part of the industry’s change.”

TimberWest would like to sincerely thank Dave for his dedication to TimberWest, his colleagues, and the many people he helped influence and mentor along the way. He has profoundly changed the way we work in the forest, and TimberWest wishes him the very best for his well-deserved retirement.

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